The impact of digital technology and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter is changing the way we shape the language and choose to communicate, according to linguistics experts attending a conference at Heriot-Watt's Edinburgh Campus.
Opening new lines of communication
The University is hosting the British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL) Annual Conference. More than 350 delegates are attending from across Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand to consider the conference theme of €˜Opening New Lines of Communication in Applied Linguistics'.
The field of applied linguistics looks primarily at how language works in a social context. Research in the area has been transformed by an increasing focus on the social, cultural and linguistic changes brought about by globalisation, increased mobility and transnational flows, new technologies and a changing political and economic landscape.
The emergence of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and other digital meeting grounds has led academics to talk about a new communicative order in which new types of speakers, new forms of language and new modes of communication emerge.
€˜Opening New Lines of Communication in Applied Linguistics' addresses the challenges and opportunities that this new communicative order presents in the field of applied linguistics. To understand the complexity of this new (socio)linguistic reality, the conference explores new lines of communication between sub-disciplines within and beyond the field of applied linguistics.
Heriot-Watt linguistics lecturer Bernadette O'Rourke said, "At a time when numbers of secondary students studying modern languages is falling, it is still vital to be aware of how our use of language shapes our society.
"In Scotland we have more than 100 languages being used regularly, and across the world there are now more people using English as a second language than there are native English speakers. With the international flow of digital communications we are finding that English is being adapted in innovative ways to meet the needs of a multilingual digital community.
"This is just one of the areas we will be exploring during the BAAL conference."